According to experts, recent suggestions that the findings of a study on the blind mole rat will lead to a universal cancer cure in the near future are misleading at best.
Researchers from the Israeli University of Haifa had set out to compare the blind mole rat to ordinary rats and mice, examining their respective resistances to cancer.
Blind mole rats have a lifespan of around 20 years, and are able to live in difficult conditions underground where oxygen levels are extremely low. In addition, they don't appear to develop the type of illnesses that accompany old age.
This study wanted to expand on previous research, which had shown the blind mole rats to have a natural resistance to cancer. Various experiments were conducted on 12 blind mole rats, six mice and six rats. This included injections with cancer-causing chemicals, as well as applying the chemicals to their shaved backs in an effort to induce skin cancer.
The researchers found that while the rats and mice developed tumours within two to six months as expected, the blind mole rats were largely resistant.
While it is understandable that the researchers consider this study to be ground-breaking, much more research will required before these findings can potentially be integrated into cancer treatment in humans. However, this will probably take many years.
1. Manov I, Hirsh M, Iancu TC, et al. Pronounced cancer resistance in a subterranean rodent, the blind mole-rat, Spalax: in vivo and in vitro evidence . BMC Evidence. Published online August 9 2013